Good day to you, Champions! Today I thought I would talk a bit about my A. M. Sohma Second Age of Retha series. I don’t intend to do this too much as I am much more low key with my pen name, but when I have a new A. M. Sohma I still want to give a little behind-the-scenes-peek. Unfortunately when Desperate Quest came out, I was trying to write Frog Prince, so I didn’t have a chance to write anything. But I can remedy that today!
I’ve been a long time video gamer–of both computer games and gaming systems–and one of my all time favorite books is Heir Apparent, a story in which a teenage girl gets stuck in a single-player game. But what actually motivated me to write the Second Age of Retha series wasn’t so much video games, but Diana Wynne Jones’ Tough Guide to Fantasyland. Tough guide is a fictional book, but it’s actually more of a satire-encyclopedia that goes over the many cliches presented in fantasy and pokes fun at them.
Retha–my game world–itself is a mixture of Middle Earth, Hyrule, and all the other fantasy lands I’ve read about or played in. I tried hard to make Retha as cliche as possible, because that gave me a lot of room for humor. Don’t get me wrong, I still wanted the game to be beautiful so a lot of effort went into imagining the landscapes and cities, but you have your typical races (elves, dwarves, fae) and typical baddies (dragons, spiders, goblins) all featured in areas you would expect.
Beautiful or not, I still made it my mission to tackle those previously mentioned cliches. In example, when you read a fantasy book the characters are usually all very calm and grim as they fight their way through the spiders or the dragons, and kill every last one of them. In reality, ain’t nobody got time for that! Seriously, who would try to take on every dragon in a cave when you can just sneak through, get what you need, and then run like crazy to get out of there? That’s more the angle I was going for–how people would actually react versus how they think they would react.
Another cliche I picked on was female armor. In both games and books, it’s pretty common for a female to have armor or clothes that flash her stomach or her legs. As a tomboy, I can attest that wearing something like that is the fastest way ever to get scratched up and bruised. Seriously, I climbed a tree in a swimming suit once and I can’t say I recommend it, and heroines are supposed to be scrambling up mountains like that?! PFT! No.
But the book isn’t all cliches. I did do some innovating with the game system itself. The average litRPG is heavily invested in stat building. (The idea being when your character levels up, you get a certain amount of points and can choose to invest them in different categories like strength and agility.) However, I haven’t played many games where you decide on your characters stats–that’s more of a Dungeons and Dragons thing–and many of the games I love are heavy on skills and let you decide what sort of skills you want your character to learn.
I mulled the idea over, and decided that if I was playing a game that felt real, I would probably want the game to reflect reality a little more, so I thought it would be an awesome game mechanic if skills were determined by how you played. This isn’t an entirely new idea as there are a handful of games out there that will adjust your characters stats based on how you play, however, I did do something new by bringing in the game’s ‘life skills.’
Life Skills are a great way for the game to balance out characters so no one is too powerful or completely useless, but I was particularly inspired to make them because I thought it would be hilarious to receive useless skills in a video game world. In epic fantasy books and LitRPG books, characters are forever receiving these amazing all powerful spells and skills. (I’m guilty of it too–it’s all over The Snow Queen series) No one, however, receives the equivalent of a consolation prize. And if you think about it, probability speaking, someone along the way should receive dud skills/spells. So Kit became the target of my twisted sense of humor.
Whew! I suspect that is more than enough for today. Thanks for reading, Champions, and have a fantastic day!